Our Winter '07 article, Gifts That Keep on Giving, has attracted some attention for its praise of Heifer International, a charitable foundation dedicated to providing international communities in need with livestock. Some livestock are used to help with farming and transportation, while others provide families with food and an opportunity to earn money through their milk, eggs, cheese, wool, and -- yes -- meat.
In our Spring '08 issue, we published a letter from reader Kate Lawrence, who wrote,
For Buddhists, a donation through Heifer violates the First Precept about not killing. These animals and their offspring will be killed, and killed specifically at the request of the donor. Do we really want to celebrate the holidays by sending animals to slaughter? Even if the donated animal is kept for milk or egg production, there is still killing involved: the female animals’ unwanted male siblings have most likely been slaughtered sooner rather than later.